The Best Companies Are Just Starting To Tackle Gender Bias in Recruiting

To be honest, I don’t talk about being a woman in business very much. I’m in a field that is filled with vibrant, brilliant, highly successful women who tend to go at a very fast clip, with little time or inclination for reflection.

HR is filled with smart, powerful, resourceful women. But is it equitable, at the end of the day? The truth is we have a long way to go to truly make the world of work better for women.

The good news is that dynamic and effective organizations understand that equity benefits everyone, which is why more HR departments are taking steps to reduce bias in the ways they attract talent. Let’s take a look at how recruiting is adapting.

Start With Job Postings

Tons of work goes into writing job descriptions, and yet we turn off great talent by not considering how they might interpret specific language.

Gender-coded language is alive and well in job descriptions in all fields. We may be just trying to write standout, engaging descriptions, but in the process we inadvertently discourage women applicants. We still look for ninjas and rockstars (terms associated with males far more than females), and seek aggressive, dominant players (same).

But tech, while often a notorious offender, has also produced some highly effective digital tools to help. Augmented writing platforms (like Textio) and gender decoding software (like the free Gender Decoder) can seek and scrub bias, as well as help bolster descriptions with truly engaging but equitable language. This is a strong case for letting the machines do the work. As humans, we can’t seem to get out of our own way.

Gender Decoder, for instance, is surprisingly effective in such simple ways that it’s astounding we don’t all use it as a required step in creating recruiting materials, job descriptions — really any content for candidates, applicants or new hires.

The software is not just simply anti-bias. It’s more of a bias detector that suggests better wording and terminology to decrease the perceptions of a reader that there is bias. In a sense we learn each time we use it. It turns us into cognitive thinkers. These tools are improving and only going to proliferate as awareness and demand increases.

Small Efforts Usually Don’t Work

There’s a new program, which shall go unnamed here, that advertises itself as an alternative to Textio, which should tell you how vital Textio has become. Curiously, this new program doesn’t mention bias at all — just that it can help companies attract more “qualified and female” applicants by replacing gendered language.

The thing is if we don’t say bias, we don’t focus on bias. Qualified and female? Am I the only one who thinks that’s a pretty awkward way to put it? You can’t fix bias if you don’t call it that.

When it comes to bias, we know that small efforts don’t solve the problem. Anti-bias training, gender sensitivity training, inclusion workshops — all those can be good but they’re proving to often be ineffective.

When we’re rushing to craft a snappy job description, we may not be sitting back and taking a minute (or five) to consider whether its biased language or not. Pressure and lack of time tends to make us use fallback approaches, and bias, unfortunately, is for many a fallback approach. We need to instead build anti-bias thinking into our everyday.

Going Beyond Recruiting

This bias-scrubbing effort needs to go beyond job postings. In fact, all recruiting touchpoints need to be closely examined for bias. It really has to change. But I think it’s also going to be more and more important to integrate that anti-bias technology into all work processes.

For example, there are already a few forward-thinking HR tools that are looking at how to make sure recognition and rewards are not biased — not just in terms of the analytics on frequency and who is getting what, but also the very way we’re offering them.

Additionally, the entire benefits process could use an anti-bias scrub. As millennials and Gen Z look for employers who offer family and paternity leave as well as same-sex benefits and family support, companies that sill think “Baby = Mom” are going to be left in the dust. We should really be conducting bias audits on every aspect of the company.

We need more tangible solutions in our arsenal so we can approach the same old problems — and some new problems — in more effective ways.

3 Ways to Master the Spring Hiring Season

As the snow is melting, you might be turning your mind toward warm-weather staples like baseball, barbecues and hiring season. Yes, hiring season. As a human resources professional, you have probably noticed that it is easier to fill open positions in May, June and July. Smart Recruiters conducted a survey of 100,000 employees at 700 companies and found that these three months come with the highest number of job applicants.

There are a few reasons that explain why these months stand out. Many companies try to fill open positions by the start of summer, which often leads to a hiring increase. Most companies also do not want to leave roles empty through the summer months when many existing employees go on vacation.

Further, organizations have typically updated their strategic goals for the year by this time, which means there are likely new roles to be filled. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found in its 2018 “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey” that May and June are two of the months with the greatest number of available jobs.

While all of these factors are important, there is one particular factor that makes this time of year a prime time for hiring.

Spring Brings a New Applicant Pool

Most college students graduate in the spring, offering up an entire class of candidates who are ready for their first real jobs. While this time of year means more competition for job seekers, it also means better odds that you will find someone who is the right fit for your company. And unlike older applicants, recent graduates might be ready to start right away without risk of requesting a summer vacation.

Younger hires are also more gentle on your budget. Workers with years (or decades) of experience have higher salary expectations, so you might be able to save thousands of dollars annually by hiring even one younger candidate with fewer years of relevant work experience.

Less experience can be a strength. Younger job applicants are likely to be more adaptable and more eager to undergo extensive training when hired for a new role. Recent graduates are familiar with having to multitask and juggle numerous high-priority projects for their coursework, a lifestyle their more seasoned counterparts might have forgotten. They are also often equipped with a team attitude, chipping in to help their coworkers when others are feeling overburdened.

There is no doubt that you should be on the lookout for highly qualified applicants to fill your open positions come springtime, but how can you be sure that you stand out to job seekers? Follow these steps to ensure your company is on the radar of potential employees when application and hiring season rolls around:

Increase Your Visibility

Make sure your company is showcasing what it has to offer employees in the places candidates are searching. Where does the top talent in your industry usually find job postings? Your company’s openings should be on those sites. If you are seeking developers, for example, some search sites are better known for posting jobs in the tech industry than others.

According to Jobvite, 43 percent of applicants find jobs via a job board. Social media networks also prove to be a great resource. LinkedIn led to successful hires for 95 percent of companies, and some companies surveyed even found employees through Twitter or Facebook.

Create an Enticing Atmosphere

With so many job options to choose from, applicants are going to prefer companies with a positive culture that speaks to their values. Emphasizing your organization’s core values will attract candidates whose values match your team’s. Cultivating the company culture that so many people seek is all about attracting employees whose personal beliefs align with your team’s mission.

This connection can be established through your HR communications. Over 40 percent of job applicants get zero response from recruiters; even an automatic response is better than nothing. Be receptive to prospective employees reaching out to you over any communication channel — when a role opens up, you might have just the right candidate waiting in the wings. In fact, 55 percent of applicants have some type of relationship with companies before they apply.

Rely on Your Existing Employees

Who knows your workplace and its expectations better than your current team members? Showcasing the talented employees who fill your office is a good way to attract like-minded candidates. Having workers vouch for the culture and workload also assuages any worries job seekers might have about work-life balance or benefits.

Using your employees as brand ambassadors gives you a strong advantage. According to Glassdoor, 76 percent of job applicants want inside details on what makes a company a great workplace. Employees can also act as judges of character at marketing events or during in-office interviews.

Finding the right candidate can happen at any time, but you have a definite advantage in late spring and early summer. Put the timing and applicant pool to work for you, and use these three tips to find the right additions to your team during the right time of year.

How to Hire Based on Values

A well-defined culture is the key to uniting your company and scaling to new heights, says author and high-growth company culture expert Brett Putter. Then why is hiring for culture fit so difficult?

Putter, who is the founder and CEO of CultureGene, a culture consultancy helping prepare startup and high-growth companies for scale, says your company culture is essentially the way your organization works. That means as you develop your business and it grows, your culture will change with it — making hiring for culture fit a tricky, if not impossible, task.

Hiring for well-defined values, on the other hand, is much more executable, Putter says. It’s also good business, leading to better employee retention, collaboration and productivity.

“When people are values-aligned they share much quicker, and the basis of the sharing is around the culture — almost the invisible way the company works,” he says. “We find that people get up to speed much quicker and we find that the root speed on their ROI is much quicker.”

We recently spoke to Putter about his company’s culture-development process and the power of hiring based on values.

Define Your Values

“If you ask any CEO to accurately define their culture, they can’t,” Putter says. “The reason for that is because it’s this almost-invisible, subconscious thing, for the most part, and it changes all the time.”

In his firm’s culture-development process, organizations start by defining their values, mission and vision — and specifically define values first. “Most companies make a mistake and they find the values, they put them up on a wall and tell their people to live those values,” he says. The problem, he says, is that people always interpret the same values differently, which can lead to significantly different decisions.

Instead, Putter starts by having companies taking their values and defining a handful of expected behaviors connected to those values. “That then allows the individuals in the company to understand how they should behave,” he says. “That then allows you to start interviewing and structuring interview questions against those specific behaviors, which are associated with your values.”

Hire Against Values

Prior to founding CultureGene, Putter was the managing partner at a London-based executive search firm, where he successfully completed executive-level searches for hundreds of companies.

When it comes to hiring for senior roles, Puttner says the candidate should be interviewed against your organization’s values first — before against specific skills and experience. “By and large from the CV you can tell if this person can do the job or not,” he says. “It’s more important to not waste everyone else’s time if they don’t fit the values.

CultureGene trains executives who are hiring to conduct the first few candidate interviews in pairs. One person asks questions and watches the candidate responses, while the second person takes notes and focuses on what he or she is hearing from the candidate. “At the end of that the two people get together and they score this person against the believability of those answers,” he says.

For hiring more junior positions at scale, a company can dedicate one person who will do a last-minute values check — after the hiring manager has identified a successful candidate — to ensure that person is a good fit for the organization.

Demonstrate Values During Onboarding

While CultureGene tailors the onboarding around the way each company works, it places a strong emphasis on demonstrating and communicating company values to new hires.

Putter recommends that the CEO begins the onboarding process if possible. “The CEO opens the onboarding and says, ‘This is who I am, I have an open-door policy, these are our values, this is what’s important to me,’ ” he says. Then, at the end of the week, the same CEO could say, “What questions do you have?” and reiterate the open-door policy that was expressed in the opening day.

Putter also encourages organizations to make an effort to incorporate their values into the onboarding process. For example, if prosperity is one of the company’s values, part of the process from the first day could be to share financials and the overall state of the business with the new hire.

The CultureGene process also requires every direct employee who is going to work with the new hire to write a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan that explains what they need to do to work well with the new employee over those periods and what they want to teach the new employee in that time.

“We demonstrate to the employee that’s joining we care about what you are about to achieve,” he says.

#WorkTrends: Build a Better Candidate Experience

With the rise of LinkedIn and job boards, it’s easier to find qualified candidates now more than ever. However, with a robust job market and so branded recruited experiences, engaging with your candidates is actually even more challenging than it has been in the past.

In recruiting, the candidate experience is more important than ever, from how you engage with a candidate online to actually bringing them in for an interview. To help fill in the gaps, we sat down with an expert on CX, Scott Weaver, a talent acquisition leader at Teradata. He walked us through exactly why he’s “systemizing and operationalizing” the candidate experience at Teradata — and how you can, too.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

The Silver Bullet in Recruiting

As we think about candidate experience, Weaver cautions that, “there is no silver bullet in recruiting.” Weaver, though, believes that optimizing your candidate experience is as close as you can come to finding that elusive silver bullet. “You can systemize and operationalize how you’re treating people,” Weaver explains. However, very few businesses actually do it.

“Systemizing and operationalizing” your candidate experience can be difficult. If you have one or two great recruiters, they are already providing that amazing candidate experience you’re looking for. The issue comes with scaling beyond your two best recruiters. “You need to scale how you treat people. It gets really, really difficult to do that across the board.”

Streamlining and improving your candidate experience also does something great as well. Beyond beating your competitors for talent, it also serves to improve your organization’s brand. “It’s an opportunity to transform your brand from within,” Weaver says. A positive candidate experience — regardless of who is hired — will result in better word-of-mouth and lead to greater benefits down the road.

Lessons From the Candidate Experience at Teradata

Weaver and his team at Teradata have done the “systemizing and operationalizing” to improve their candidate experience, and it provides lessons for all of us.

To scale their model up, they decided to map out every single touch point the organization has with a candidate. From here, they created a checklist within their organization, addressing things from branding to technology to how they can treat candidates better. Weaver also suggests making it incredibly easy to find your job listings on your website. As simple as this may sound, it is something many companies do not do well.

Finally, Weaver addressed another aspect of recruiting that many have overlooked: reaching a candidate’s inner circle. Though we often think of a job board search as the first step in the job hunt, many candidates actually discuss their thoughts first with their inner circle. Marketing a job to someone who isn’t hunting for the job is difficult, but it’s something Weaver and his team have given a lot of thought to. They will soon implement a novel solution: they will have their new hires post on LinkedIn a small post that says, “I just started my job at Teradata. Ask me why.”

What Companies Get Wrong About CX

Weaver also has a few tips for those who are potentially going about redesigning their candidate experience. “Too many people are focused on the fluff,” he says. Don’t focus on providing perks for candidates, he says. Instead, Weaver believes companies should focus on the operation, ensuring consistency through their various recruiters.

But the most important thing, he believes, is to be transparent with your candidates. Let them know where you stand, and provide as much information as possible to the candidate about the position, so that both you and the candidate can determine the best fit. This, he says, is the best way to improve your candidate experience — by demonstrating a respect for the candidate and their time.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Why You Need To Start Training Your Recruiting Teams for AI-Related Hiring

AI is here to stay. You are going to need to hire AI talent no matter what your industry is — and now is the time to start preparing your organization to do that effectively and efficiently. It’s just not going to happen on its own.

Once upon a time in recent history, businesses made the switch to PCs, email, networks, the Web — and experts in information technology became vital for any company. Now we’re racing headlong into another evolution as AI transforms business applications. We’re going to need people who are experts in AI. It’s that simple.

Even if you don’t know you’re going to be hiring AI architects, AI product managers, software engineers and AI ethicists, assume that you will. We all know that innovations don’t wait. They just happen, and it’s up to us to be there.

It’s best to accept that AI will be a part of how your business functions, if it’s not already, and start planning your investment in AI-skilled hires now. You don’t want to wind up with a substantial hole in your roster or your operations due to all the talent being snapped up. Here are three steps to take now to start preparing for the robot revolution.

Start Training and Building Infrastructure Around AI

AI, machine learning and big data are all transformative tools, which means your recruiting team needs specialized training in how to effectively hire for positions related to these technologies.

Or, take it a step further and consider AI-dedicated recruiting teams. We’re already grappling with recruiting, hiring and retention. Most HR teams are still mired in day-to-day tasks that should not still be on their plates — not when there are countless new platforms and service providers who can take over.

A team that’s dedicated to recruiting for AI roles is going to have to be very fast and very efficient. It will also need to be extremely focused in terms of pinpointing the hard skills and training for a specific AI job position — and also very smart about identifying and discerning the right soft skills. It will need to make sure the outward-facing materials are truly aligned with the organization and free of bias.

One way to accomplish this is to redesign the recruiting team so they’re not all looking for talent, but are instead more task-oriented, so the focus is divided among people and hopefully speaks to their strengths. Here are a few possible recruiting functions that could pop up in the very near future.

A Q&A czar — This person or team is the landing point for questions the chatbot sends to a human (please have a human on hand to answer questions as well as chatbots).

Initial pre-screening — This function works with cognitive assessment and screening tools to identify the best potential candidates in terms of both hard skills and soft skills

Skills specialist — Once the first tier of potential candidates is identified, this function takes a much closer look at the technical and functional hard skills, then assesses key soft skills such as problem solving and situational challenges that match each candidate better with the requirements of specific jobs.

The decision team — This team combines all the information and feedback on each candidate and takes it to the next level in terms of a hire. They’re also the team that interfaces with the hiring organization.

Let the Chatbots Help with Recruiting

As we head toward filling AI roles, here’s an irony: Our concerns about machine learning and AI may hurt ourselves even more in the next few years. Tighten up your recruiting and hiring processes with automation, self-service, and other future-facing tools. Let the chatbots help. It will free your team to ramp up on how to find the best AI talent — how to screen for training, skill sets and experience.

We need to be better and smarter about how we recruit, hire and manage our hard-won talent. Many of us are looking at the solutions presented by machine learning and AI. It’s not that I want you to lift the needle off that record. But no one wants to be caught off guard, waltzing to the possibilities of sentiment analysis and virtual teams, while your competitors are searching for tech talent to fill their brand-new AI-related jobs.

We need to make sure we’re still in control of the hiring process, but that doesn’t mean rejecting innovative technologies because we feel like they’re too opaque. Automation and self-service are vital for today’s candidates — this is how they interact with all the other aspects of their life, and it has to be part of the candidate experience just as it’s part of the consumer experience.

They also provide a far better and clearer picture of how candidates are responding, and how they’re behaving during the recruiting and hiring process — vital information that helps HR departments learn and improve.

Get Outside Help If Necessary

If you can’t train up your team, bring in reinforcements. You need specialized experts on board who know the difference between Hadoop and PySpark — just a for instance. You also need to know where to find AI talent, how to attract them, how to get them to say yes, and then, how to keep them.

Consultants are one way to do it because hiring for AI roles is not in everyone’s wheelhouse and requires very specialized awareness of training, tech and tasks. Bringing in outside services are another: use the tools developed and administered by organizations that are highly advanced in background screening, in self-service platforms, in video interviewing channels, in tools that can be integrated with your existing hiring software.

Companies that are smaller and not entrenched in AI are not necessarily going to want to do this alone. They’re also not going to have the resources to commit to automation or self-service tools. But those tools are vital, and your organization is going to have to integrate them one way or another in the coming years.

#WorkTrends: Recruiting + Retention = True Love

You know who’s perfect for each other? Recruiting and retention.

So what’s been taking them so long?

It’s February and love is in the air, so it’s time to finally get these two together. In this week’s episode we turn to Ankit Somani, co-founder of end-to-end AI HR recruiter AllyO, to find out how technology is helping to get the love affair going. We’re also joined by Jeanne Meister from Future Workplace, who tells us even more about how we can better connect the recruiting experience with the employee experience.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

They’re Perfect for Each Other

The traditional recruiting-and-retention model splits the two into separate functions. Somani says this is ridiculous. “From a candidate perspective, it doesn’t make sense,” he says. Because organizations have siloed the two apart from each other, companies are actually costing themselves money and time, and it’s difficult to carry over the relationships, data and human capital from recruiting to retention, he says.

But it’s easy to have a smooth transition — just don’t have one at all. Somani says the new recruiting function must become “hiring plus retention.” That means having the same person who is in charge of recruiting an employee also be in charge of training, especially in those critical first few days. Not only does this ensure familiarity, it also creates a trust that helps a new hire transition into the organization.

And it creates equity with a new hire too. “People these days want to work for companies that really care about them,” Somani says. A more streamlined recruiting-and-retention process is a big step toward showing that you care about an employee’s development in your organization.

Use Technology to Help Seal the Deal

Of course, it’s 2019. Our matchmakers aren’t always human. Outside the workplace we use Tinder, and in HR we use artificial intelligence.

AllyO has been assisting companies with their AI technology to marry recruiting and retention, and Somani talked about the company’s experience with the restaurant chain Maggiano’s Little Italy. The chain’s recruitment team was severely understaffed, so it turned to AllyO’s system to help with recruiting. “AllyO became the single source for 80 percent of applicants going through the system,” Somani says. This means applicants were chatting with AllyO from the moment they considered the job to the moment they were hired.

However, the chain was also having issues with retention. Using AllyO’s software, it instituted mandatory new-hire check-ins throughout the first 90 days of employment. Maggiano’s was able to use its findings to improve its training practices and its retention rates.

Another benefit of this new kind of matchmaker is that because of their familiarity with AllyO and its processes, employees were comfortable providing feedback. “Employees are responding to AllyO 50 percent more than they would have responded if we had reached out to them cold,” Somani says.

A Tech Reminder

Somani also offered the reminder that no matter how enamored you may be with your shiny new tech tools for HR, remember that a chatbot isn’t the way to convince someone to take a job. “Bots don’t do that, and that’s where recruiters need to bring in that human element,” Somani says. The automated tools at your disposal are just there to ensure a better, more consistent candidate experience. Ultimately it’s on you, the recruiter, to play matchmaker between candidate and company — and to make sure the marriage is one to brag about.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

This episode is sponsored by AllyO.

The Future of Work Is Global: 3 Tips for Hiring a Global Team

As they look for solutions to the talent crunch, U.S. employers increasingly are turning to international labor pools to fill critical workforce needs — even as political uncertainty surrounding immigration continues to grow.

A report released last year by immigration services firm Envoy said that most U.S. organizations were still actively sourcing foreign talent. The survey found that about 70 percent of employers indicated that having a global workforce was very or extremely important to their talent strategy.

However, the Trump administration has imposed tighter restrictions on individual visa applications, including the popular H-1B program that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. So what is a globally focused organization to do in this challenging environment?

We asked corporate immigration lawyer Neena Dutta for her insights into how employers can more effectively secure visas for international recruits.

Understand the Candidate’s Goals and Background

Dutta, who is a seasoned immigration practitioner with a focus on corporate immigration, represents a variety of employers who wish to sponsor individuals or teams of employees. She says that given the complexity of the visa process, there is no one-size-fits-all process for employers looking to recruit foreign workers, but there are few guidelines that can make success more likely.

Dutta says the first step when sponsoring a worker is usually to determine what that individual’s end goal is — most importantly, whether they’re looking to stay in the U.S. on a short-term or long-term basis. The next question to ask, she says, is “what nationalities do you have?”

“That might seem like a strange question for some employers to ask, but it can make a huge difference,” she says. For people from countries such as Australia, Canada and Chile, there may be special treaties or regulations that can make a significant impact in the visa application process.

It’s also important to fully understand a candidate’s education credentials. Dutta says that in the eyes of the immigration system, a candidate wrapping up a college degree is not the same as a candidate with a degree.

For example, a candidate who is applying for a visa and is on track to complete a master’s degree in their home country in six months will not be treated the same through the application process as a candidate who has already secured the degree. It’s an even more important distinction, she says, given U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ lottery-based system that holds visa slots for 20,000 candidates with master’s degrees or higher and a larger applicant pool with a bachelor’s degree.

“The slightest change in facts can make or break it,” she says.

Find an Expert to Lean On

Dutta says one of the biggest mistakes HR professionals make when recruiting foreign workers is failing to include their immigration counsel in the process once they decide to make an offer.

Sometimes HR may decide to move forward with an international candidate because it feels the candidate is a good talent fit and long-term investment for the company, even if it isn’t sure if the candidate can work after 12 months, Dutta says. While HR is restricted from asking certain questions, an immigration attorney tends to have more leeway, she says.

For example, she says, a candidate could inform an organization’s immigration counsel about a change in their marital status or dual citizenship that could alter the facts surrounding their work eligibility — information that HR would not be able to turn up on its own.

Dutta says discussing difficult issues surrounding foreign workers with outside immigration experts can save HR considerable trouble over the long run, even if it’s just a few minutes on a conference call. “It doesn’t have to take hours and hours to do it,” she says. “Sometimes people just give me a quick call. It’s always better to run it by somebody else.”

An outside expert can also help an organization navigate internships for foreign students, a common problem area. “Even when the person’s volunteering or doing free work, you have to be really careful that they’re not violating their visa,” she says.

Get a Long-Term Plan

The Trump administration has proposed or enacted a number of new restrictions on high-skilled foreign workers, changes that are expected to increase the number of denials for H-1B petitions.

Among the biggest proposed changes for employers is in pre-registration requirements for H-1B visas, an electronic process that can be burdensome for smaller companies, she says, but there are a number of policy changes that will likely require adjustments by employers.

Dutta suggests studying up on the regulatory changes and developing a process to help ensure your organization doesn’t miss important deadlines — such as the April 1 date each year when the USCIS begins accepting H-1B applications. The slots are usually filled just a week later.

“Long-term planning has become essential,” Dutta says. “It’s really difficult to sponsor someone last minute. You have to look to the future — one year, five years, what’s the plan? — which is difficult in today’s work environment where people move around so much.”

5 Ways Technology is Changing the Face of HR

With potentially groundbreaking HR technology solutions emerging, we’re seeing a tech boom that is fundamentally reshaping the way we work — and how we think about HR.

According to the 2019 HCM Trends report from The HR Federation, a network of leading HR market analysts, global HR technology venture capital has topped $3.1 billion this year, more than triple the amount invested in 2017. While there’s a range of technologies, some of the most interesting — and disruptive — examples are powered by artificial intelligence and automation.

“AI and machine learning are opening the door to a whole new world of possibility for the human capital space,” CareerBuilder CEO Irina Novoselsky says. “Our research shows that more than half of HR managers feel AI will become a regular part of HR within five years.”

Novoselsky says her company has developed AI technology that can build a job description or resume in less than a minute, and also tell companies which candidates match jobs and are likely to respond. “What is exciting is that we’re just at the cusp of what this technology can do,” she says.

Here are five other ways technology is changing the face of HR.

1. AI Is Making Recruitment Smarter

Recruiting new hires is a time-consuming and costly process, but thanks to automation and AI it’s getting easier to find skilled people who are a great fit for your company. From automated resume screeners to robot interviewers, a wave of these tech solutions for recruiting has hit the market.

“AI is starting to outperform humans at making hiring decisions in certain areas, such as evaluating hard skills,” says Harj Taggar, co-founder and CEO of Triplebyte, which offers a credentials-blind process for evaluating engineers. “AI then frees up recruiters to focus more on conducting soft-skill and culture-fit evaluation in a more structured way.”

Mikaila Turman, director of people at background check company GoodHire, says machine learning and AI are changing the way the company recruits, hires and onboards new employees. For example, she says, the company recently used a tech tool called Entelo to find qualified engineers in a more targeted way during a high-volume hiring period.

“We were able to reach out directly via email versus posting on LinkedIn, and subsequently increased our candidate pool,” she says. “Leveraging technology helps us to be proactive in our efforts to get responses instead of spinning our wheels and getting nowhere.”

2. Compliance Is More Efficient and Sophisticated

Staying compliant has often been a major challenge for HR teams. Laws and regulations are constantly changing and often require vast amounts of paperwork and information.

Compliance once required organization and dedicated IT storage capacity, but cloud-based solutions have streamlined the process.

Derek Jones, vice president of enterprise solutions at employee scheduling firm Deputy, says that as technologies continue to improve and labor laws evolve, companies will increasingly turn to technology to navigate complex and sometimes politically charged compliance issues.

For example, he says, the Fair Workweek movement has emerged as a major working-class issue, with cities like New York and San Francisco passing laws that limit unpredictable work hours that can demoralize workers and make it hard for businesses to retain talent. He says companies that have employed tech solutions for this issue have been able to more effectively navigate these changing rules.

“Businesses that embrace technology for compliance will come out on top, with more attractive recruiting and retention efforts, as well as better working conditions that improve employee engagement and increase sales,” he says.

3. Analytics Drive Better Performance Management

Performance management has long been an important HR function. HR pros have driven the process, monitoring performance, collecting supervisory feedback and facilitating regular employee reviews. Technology has streamlined the process and eliminated a lot of unnecessary steps, but the next data-driven phase of performance management is upon us.

Betterworks CEO Doug Dennerline says HR will see a new level of data competency in 2019 with the rapid and widespread adoption of people analytics that help managers and executives make decisions about their workforce. “The raw data pulled from analytics can be used to create actionable insights and ultimately support data-driven decisions around promotions or compensation, development and success planning, and agile cross-functional team staffing,” Dennerline says.

He says HR teams can apply analytics to sentiment data generated from hundreds of interactions between employees and managers as part of the performance management process. Analyzing sentiment data helps HR to identify opportunities for coaching, Dennerline says, and allows managers and employees to benchmark their performance.

“Though people analytics won’t replace the human elements of HR, 2019 will see them complement humans more than ever before and become an extension of the team,” he says.

4. Better Analytics Boosts Diversity and Inclusion

McKinsey & Co.’s 2017 Diversity Matters II report says there’s a positive correlation between a more ethnically and gender-diverse leadership team and an increase in profits. Consumers are also more frequently looking for companies that value diversity, and that will have an impact on recruiting strategies.

Parijat Sarkar, senior director of product management for Zenefits, says that as awareness of the value of diverse teams grows, organizations will increasingly leverage workforce analytics to tackle diversity and inclusion issues.

“This is important as more companies — especially with today’s political climate — are pressured to take a stance on D&I workplace issues,” Sarkar says. “For example, companies can use people analytics to get a clearer view of pay gaps and discrepancies so they can do a better job to promote fair salary compensation.”

As the spotlight on workplace D&I continues to grow, Sarkar says, it will put pressure on HR software vendors to offer more of these types of offerings.

5. A More Strategic Role for HR

Technology has given HR professionals tools that reduce the time they have to spend on administrative tasks, allowing them to focus on issues that require more hands-on attention.

Before mobile apps and cloud computing, HR was defined by piles of paperwork and a constant struggle to keep up with compliance, hiring and unending stacks of employee information. By simplifying responsibilities like recruitment, record keeping and payroll, human resources technology has significantly improved efficiency, accuracy and even employee morale.

“HR’s role as an administrative function will continue to shift to HR being a strategic advantage for the organization as the department continues to be supported by technology that simplifies administrative tasks and frees up our time and resources to make a more strategic impact on the organization,” GoodHire’s Turman says.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in February 2016, and substantially updated in December 2018.

How to Nurture Your High-Potential Employees

With 6 million job openings and about half of U.S. employees contemplating a job change, the hiring market seems straightforward. But before launching a broad search for candidates, take an objective look to evaluate how well your company leverages its internal talent pool.

Promoting from within has obvious advantages. For one thing, internal candidates know the organization and have a proven performance record. This means they can hit the ground running because of their familiarity with the company culture and the relationships they’ve built.

Filling a job with a high-potential internal candidate is also typically faster and more cost-effective. Beyond the efficiencies related to onboarding and training, there’s an overall cost consideration. A study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School says external hires in the investment banking industry earned up to 20 percent more than employees who were promoted to a comparable position. However, the performance of the promoted candidates significantly outpaced that of external hires in their first 24 months on the job.

Even though this is widely accepted as a best practice, it’s harder to implement on the ground. The reality is that many companies put more emphasis on managing attrition than on improving retention. As a consequence, your ambitious high-potential employees may look elsewhere for their next challenge. In fact, research by the Corporate Executive Board found that 1 in 4 high-potential employees plan to leave their company within a year. By actively cultivating these valuable employees and accelerating their development, you will enhance employee motivation and engagement.

A Culture of Cultivation

Creating a high-potential talent pool is not a one-and-done event. Rather, it’s an ongoing endeavor that requires a strong partnership between executives and HR. A successful high-potential program operates both cyclically and periodically as an integrated part of company culture, with internal mobility, mentorship and development at its core.

If your company already has an established program, build in regular opportunities to revisit and refresh the high-potential employee success profile. Organizational goals evolve quickly in a dynamic marketplace, and high-potential talent profiles must stay current to remain valuable.

When mobility is woven into the culture, companies establish clear paths for employees and recruiters alike. Along with strategic identification and development of high-potential employees, some organizations go a step further to discover capabilities and build crossover skills. Other companies offer programs to help employees broaden their experience through job rotations across different departments.

5 Steps to Build Your Program

Establishing a culture of hiring from within requires a strategic commitment to nurture your high-potential employees. These five considerations will help you successfully cultivate your talent pipeline.

Develop a Forward-Looking Profile

Before you develop assessments to identify high-potential employees, step back and refine your definitions. What are the critical roles within the company today? How will those roles change in the years ahead? What skills and capabilities will be required? The answers to these questions set the foundation for developing a profile of the capabilities required for future success.

Build on this profile by looking beyond your company’s current needs. What you need are employees who will meet and exceed the skills the company needs in the future through a combination of leadership development programs, focused mentoring and coaching, and stretch assignments.

Establish Meaningful Metrics

Once you have a profile of the necessary capabilities, build an assessment process to objectively evaluate and identify talent. Consider assessing drive, people skills and abilities. Your profile will serve as the guide on what to measure. Just be certain to do it in an objective, reliable and contextually relevant manner that reflects the organization’s needs. Most importantly, keep it data-driven by utilizing analytic tools to minimize bias and document your findings for later use.

Narrow the Field

It’s easy to get excited and identify as many high-potential employees as you can, but trying to cultivate too many employees at once is a mistake. Instead of casting the widest net possible, use a two-level screening process to home in on a small, critical group of employees who are truly differentiated from the rest.

While the exact number will vary by the organization’s needs, aim for 2 to 10 percent of employees. In many cases a smaller number makes sense. This way, talent leaders, mentors and sponsors will have more time and energy to spend accelerating the development of the best of the best.

Map a Leadership Development Journey

Nurturing high-potential employees starts with identifying individual needs and potential sponsors. Align each person with a sponsor who can help her navigate the organization and challenge her along her developmental journey. In effect, the sponsor becomes a champion for the individual, ensuring the person is part of the right projects, builds relationships with a range of people and takes on stretch assignments. Secondly, identify developmental needs and goals for each high-potential employee and support each of them in building his or her own development plan. The plan most likely will include very individualized experiences as well as more systemic or cohort-based opportunities.

The primary objective of customized leadership development journeys is to prepare employees to take on their next roles. But no two people’s experiences and career paths are the same. Recognize this by getting creative when it comes to development. Help employees take full advantage of training options, and identify lateral or atypical skill-building career moves.

Take a Cyclical Approach

The essential element for establishing a successful high-potential employee program is ongoing attention, not annual reviews. Build in multiple checkpoints throughout the year to track both employee and program progress. In addition, keep refreshing the high-potential pool by repeating the screening and evaluation process regularly.

When you nurture high-potential employees in these ways, the company gains more than just a valuable resource for filling open positions. You’re also giving your best and brightest employees a chance to see their futures with you.

How Manufacturers Are Evolving to Recruit and Engage New Talent

While smart companies of all types are investing more resources in worker engagement and development than ever, many manufacturers remain a step behind. In fact, Lisa Ryan, an employee engagement and retention expert with a background in the manufacturing and welding industries, says she still encounters manufacturers who are skeptical about the value of these worker-friendly concepts.

“In some places there is this mentality of, ‘The guys come to work, why should I thank them for doing their job?’ — but I’m seeing a slow change,” Ryan says. “It’s starting, but it’s not as fast as other industries. You can connect with people on a human level instead of just another employee ID number.”

This new approach across manufacturing is being driven by a dire labor shortage — created by the U.S. manufacturing renaissance, rapid technological advances and retiring baby boomers — that is projected to grow in the coming years. “If your company is stuck in an old, calcified way of doing business, you’re going to have a hard time finding and keeping younger workers,” Ryan says.

Failing to recruit and retain young talent could be fatal for manufacturers, who are already staring down a potential shortage of 2.4 million workers over the next decade, according to research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. The same report found that a record 89 percent of executives agree there is already a talent shortage in the U.S. manufacturing sector, with firms struggling to find skilled labor to operate emerging technologies.

We asked a number of experts how the manufacturing sector is evolving to recruit and retain top talent. Here’s what they shared.

Changing Perceptions and Approaches

Khris Bhattan, president of RTG Solutions Group, which consults for the manufacturing sector, says one of the biggest drivers of recruitment and engagement strategy in the sector is the changing physical work environment, which in most cases has moved far beyond the stereotype of the gloomy factory floor.

“Manufacturers have become very aware of this negative stigma and have made significant investments in the manufacturing workspace to reverse it,” Bhattan says. “Investments in the workspace include not just the physical space but also the tools, equipment and safety protocols that are part of the workspace.”

Ryan agrees that a stigma of factory workplaces lingers with many job seekers, but she says companies can overcome it with recruiting pitches that focus more on the importance of technology in manufacturing. She says companies also need to drive home that automation and robotics are expected to create more jobs in the sector than they replace.

“On one hand, yes, it’s replacing workers,” she says. “Yet on the other hand, we’re looking for a different breed of talent and people that understand technology, like technology and want to use it in the manufacturing environment.”

Skills Gap Requires Creative Recruiting

Carlos Castelán, managing director and founder of The Navio Group, an HR/business consulting firm that works with companies to improve workplace engagement and productivity, says HR professionals in manufacturing organizations need to adjust to compete for the best and brightest.

“HR teams should think about different ways to meet the company’s goals, be it rethinking traditional employment and engaging on-demand talent solutions or adjusting pay on job offers to attract top talent in these areas,” he says. “More than ever HR plays a critical role in achieving a manufacturing company’s strategic objectives and long-term vision.”

Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest building materials companies and manufacturer of innovative material solutions, is taking innovative approaches to address the talent shortage, particularly when it comes to locations in rural areas. The company is looking beyond the geography of a job and touting positions in which people can design a career, “invent themselves and reshape the world,” says Valerie Gervais, the company’s senior vice president of human resources.

“We’re attracting talent in rural areas by rolling out pilot programs that take a holistic approach to people and families, because we know it’s not about making a living, it’s about making a life,” Gervais says. “In fact, we brought in an anthropologist to understand specific barriers that were impacting our ability to hire in certain areas. As an employer, we look at the whole ecosystem of the family.”

Manufacturing Engagement

In the book “The New Collar Workforce,” Sarah Boisvert writes about touring a family-owned and -operated jewelry company in Massachusetts that implemented lean manufacturing principles designed to encourage rapid iterations to reduce waste and improve efficiency.

She encountered a worker performing low-tech repetitive tasks who was nevertheless highly engaged in his job — because the company had empowered him to solve problems. “He was clearly proud to be valued by management and trusted to think, not just do something repetitively,” she writes.

Boisvert says lean manufacturing approaches can help tremendously with employee engagement if executives truly buy in and implement them with a focus on empowering people — which doesn’t always come easy in the sector.

“Manufacturing by definition is a conservative industry, and we’re conservative partially because change is expensive,” she says. “Anytime you have to change anything on the production line, it’s expensive both in terms of equipment and training.”

Ryan says part of the resistance to empowering, engaging and developing manufacturing employees is because most workers in the sector are between the ages of 45 and 65, rather than job-hopping millennials who want more feedback and opportunities for career development.

“There’s this mentality that ‘I’m going to be wasting my time with this person because they’re going to be leaving anyway,’ ” she says. “But if they just spent those couple of minutes, if they just created those connections and helped those people, they would probably be with the organization a lot longer.”

She says that to meet the complex needs of the next generation of workers, manufacturers will have to get creative in how they approach engagement and development. “A turkey at Christmas isn’t going to cut it,” Ryan says.

We want to hear from you. What are you seeing? How are recruiting and retention changing for you? What should manufacturing companies do to compete for top talent?

How to Build a Talent Pipeline to Keep Your Company Moving Forward

With unemployment at a historic low, even successful companies in thriving industries are struggling to find employees. Compounding this issue, Americans today are less willing to move for new jobs than they were in the past. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national “mover rate” hit a record low of 11.6% in 2011 and still remains far below the figures of decades past. That’s why it’s critical for employers to build a talent pipeline.

Today’s lack of workforce mobility hurts some industries more than others. Research projects conducted for multiple chambers of commerce suggest these areas include construction, manufacturing, health care, transportation and logistics. Robert Half, a global staffing firm, found that 65% of CFOs struggle to identify talented workers for job openings — and that’s even before the struggle to hire talent once they find it.

To prevent this situation from getting worse, companies should reimagine their recruitment strategy as a pipeline. This talent pipeline, much like a sales pipeline, gets talented prospects identified and interested in the company early so that when the time comes to hire for an open position, qualified candidates have not only already been pre-identified but they are eager to take the role.

The Necessity of the Talent Pipeline

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, recent research shows that there aren’t enough qualified workers to fill vacant positions. Many of these roles exist in new or developing fields, like data analytics and cybersecurity. For example, IT companies have 17 percent more jobs open than qualified workers to fill them. Training programs have sprouted to try to correct this imbalance, but companies need these workers faster than today’s training programs can produce them.

The issue with training lies in the multidisciplinary nature of these new jobs. Data analysts, for instance, require both advanced software skills and keen business sense. People with that combination of skills are rare, and while those who do possess the necessary training are paid handsomely, there simply aren’t enough of them.

That leaves companies clamoring to catch the attention of the best candidates — and that’s why the need to build a talent pipeline comes in.

Traditional economic development models rely on the assumption that a talent pipeline consists only of people with credentials. In today’s world of online education, however, learning is not limited to traditional brick-and-mortar locations. Advancements in technology have opened new learning opportunities and have created widespread access to aptitude tests that guide people into optimal career paths based on their innate abilities. By using aptitude-based tools, companies can identify “raw talent” earlier and communicate with those people sooner than ever before.

Modern companies can identify students with the abilities those companies will need in order to compete in the future, all while the students are still in high school. Once identified, students can work with companies through apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job learning opportunities to develop the skills they need. It’s kind of like playing “moneyball” in Major League Baseball, only for the workforce instead of relief pitchers.

With millions of students entering American high schools every year, companies that leverage this advantage can get the future workers of Generation Z interested in their industries before they even choose a college. For areas like manufacturing, that’s a big advantage. Many Gen Z students, like millennials before them, have begun to skip college in favor of jobs that don’t require taking on massive student loan debt.

Constructing an Effective Talent Pipeline

Ready to find your future employees? Follow these tips to build a talent pipeline that brings in more qualified candidates and gets younger prospects interested in your company.

Look Beyond the Resume

Resumes, while it’s helpful to outline past accomplishments, don’t reveal the potential of those who submit them. Several tools claim to help employers understand personalities, strengths, and interests, but even those extra tools fail to capture the reality of an employee’s true potential. Those surveys can be rigged, especially by smart candidates who understand how to answer in the way the company wants to hear.

Rather than rely on half-measures or self-reported surveys, companies should turn to performance-based tools to get a real understanding of what candidates are capable of. The most effective tools capture real measures of aptitude and provide proven, reliable information about a prospect’s innate abilities.

Proactively Invest in Future Talent

It’s hard to fill a talent pipeline when your company has multiple openings. Business environments put a strain on everyone, from employees picking up extra work to teams interviewing day in and day out to fill the roster. This mentality often leads to suboptimal talent, as the company takes any warm body to fill a spot.

However, by focusing on high-school students, companies can identify future talent with the abilities they need early enough in the process to create a stable, self-renewing workforce. General Electric, for instance, uses its program in Boston to train young people for STEM positions — and, in the process, it identifies the students who would make the best employees later.

Outsource the Workload

Long-term talent pipelines set up companies for long-term success, but they don’t solve short-term needs — at least not yet. To solve this, companies can turn to freelancers and contract-based staff to bridge the gap while their high-school-aged talent pipelines bear fruit.

Fortunately, good freelancers exist in abundance. If the current pace of freelancing continues, more than half of all Americans will work for themselves at least part-time within 10 years. That means a plethora of skilled talent is already out there and eager to take on more work for companies that need them.

Will improved educational opportunities close the talent gap? That’s hard to say. However, shortage or not, companies with an effective talent pipeline will be able to attract the best and brightest to work for them. By investing in the future and finding short-term alternatives to bridge the gaps, companies can stay ahead of the talent shortage and secure the superiority of their workforce for years to come.

Armando Garza is the chief evangelist at YouScience, the first online aptitude-based career guidance platform, and his goal is to help young adults find their best-fit careers at the intersection of their talents and passions.

#WorkTrends: The Future of Work: On-Demand Talent

The future of work is going to look radically different as it will be fueled by on-demand talent. And perhaps no one will be more affected by this disruption than HR. But what will those changes look like and is HR prepared for this shift?

This week on WorkTrends, we’re talking to Carisa Miklusak. She is an HR tech veteran who worked for CareerBuilder for many years. Three years ago, she founded tilr (TILL-err), a technology platform that automates the recruitment process for job seekers and companies. Her goal is to shrink the skills gap and eliminate bias in hiring. In this conversation, we talk through misconceptions about the gig economy and how some traditional hiring methods might not work with the contingent workforce.

You can listen to the full episode below or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

Misconceptions About the Gig Economy

Many people think that gig work applies to either younger people, low-skill workers or people who couldn’t get W2 jobs, but Miklusak says it’s really quite the opposite. “What I’d love for HR people to hear and take away is that people are choosing to work differently and they have more options of how to work, and they’re starting to develop new motivations for work.”

There’s been a cultural shift in the current workforce, and all kinds of people are drawn to contingent work. “Learning and growing and having flexibility have risen to the top of these workplace values, even over making another dollar or two per hour or another $20,000 per year,” she says.

This isn’t a special class of workers. She says they’re the same workers who were taking W2 jobs yesterday, but now that there’s a system that allows you to work differently, they’re choosing this option.

At tilr, the company has workers who want to be “giggers” and go from one project to the next. But tilr is also attracting people who are exploring different projects and looking for a company they want work with on a permanent basis. Some other tilr workers are giggers for a while and then they go back in the traditional workforce, and then they come back as giggers.

Search Technology Isn’t Working for the Gig Economy

Miklusak says the current search technology still relies on a candidate’s job title as the main building block of recruitment. That’s not working. “What we’ve learned is that titles can actually be limiting and screen people out rather than screen them in.”

In the new workforce, people often have many different jobs over the course of their career, and their skills are more likely to reveal not only what they’re good at, but what they want to do. “Tilr doesn’t look at titles, gender, age or years of experience,” she says. It looks at skills and proficiency.

This has allowed the company to reallocate talent differently. “What we find is, let’s say Charlie did job A and job B, and he gained skills one through three at job A, and then skills four, five, and six in job B, but he’s never done job C,” she says. “Job C simply requires skills one and five, which he has from his prior two roles, so our search technology will actually present that job to Charlie, and if he accepts, because the decision’s up to him, we’ll measure the outcome of that reallocation.”

And if Charlie turns out to be a good fit, she says the algorithm starts to really learn about how you can look at skills and reallocate talent in very effective, new ways.

Interviews May Become Obsolete

As this matching process becomes more advanced, Miklusak believes it might do away with job interviews. “One of the reasons that we’ve focused on the gig economy as we started to introduce this technology to business leaders and to workers is because we do believe that it’s easier to start to make this mind shift to an algorithm without an interview for jobs with start and end dates.”

“Interviews can be really misleading because some people are great persuasive communicators, and although an interview is a great way to get to know a person and learn about their communication style, it’s often truly not indicative, nor is their title, of how they’re going to perform in the role.” So tilr has replaced the traditional interview with a few hours or days onsite in a temporary fashion, based on skills, to really see how someone performs.

However, tilr does ask workers to pass a background check, and the company speaks with every single worker by phone. “We’ve talked with over 30,000 people about their skills, ambitions, the type of jobs they’d like to see, what would really inspire them.” She says that while a human talks to them now, in the future, there might be a chatbot asking questions.

There’s a lot more to unpack here about how HR will change in the face of an increasingly contingent workforce. Let’s keep the conversation going! Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

Virtual Reality Adds New Dimension to Employee Recruiting

Virtual reality has generated a lot of headlines in recent years. For HR departments, the most talked-about use case for VR is employee training, where the technology can decrease costs while improving performance. But early adopters of the technology are seeing quick wins by incorporating VR into their employee recruiting process. They’re recording and distributing everything from 360-degree virtual office tours to immersive first-person “day in the life” VR videos, and enabling potential hires to meet future co-workers virtually.

The benefits to using VR as part of the recruiting mix are many. Millennials, who make up more than a third of the workforce, are known for valuing experiences over “stuff.” Giving them an informative and interesting virtual look at a potential job is more memorable and valuable than a branded T-shirt or stress ball. The perception of a company is also changed by incorporating VR. According to a 2016 Greenlight VR study of 1,300 adults, more than 71% of respondents said using VR made companies seem “forward-thinking and modern.”

Particularly for older or more established companies, the incorporation of VR both in recruiting and on the job is a major positive. A case in point: Walmart’s VR-equipped mobile RV, which is traversing college campuses to promote jobs at their eCommerce divisions.

Research Successful VR Recruitment Efforts

Using VR at an exhibition booth at a career fair is a great way to drum up visitor traffic. A Samsung Gear VR or HTC Vive headset is guaranteed to generate curiosity among passersby. Simply having the technology is not enough, though. Recruiting departments need to nail their VR presentations and justify using headsets.

Toyota High System, for example, does guided VR tours of their offices. Presented at college job fairs, these VR experiences transport students hundreds of miles away to the Toyota division’s headquarters, allowing them to virtually immerse themselves in all the benefits of working at the company. They also include in their app a virtual tour guide, who introduces the VR viewer to employees in multiple divisions. There simply is no other way, outside of actually visiting the company, to get a better sense of the company culture and workforce.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, has re-edited some of their VR training videos into recruiting videos to use at college job fairs. Besides garnering more visits to their booth, the VR experience also showcases a day in the life of an inspector at the organization. For college students, who may not have much familiarity with the day-to-day job responsibilities of inspectors, it’s a great opportunity to accurately ascertain what it would be like to be employed by the USDA. Plus, many things are just easier to show using VR video rather than describing them verbally. The experience is similar to job shadowing — but without having to physically travel anywhere.

Plan What You Want to Highlight

Before diving in to VR, you’ll want to first plan how to best showcase your company. What is the focus of your VR experience? It could be to highlight all the amenities at your workplace, such as fitness centers and catered dining options. It could be to meet employees, in which case you could do POV recordings with employees or have a guide interviewing them in VR. Or it could be to highlight a job function, in which case you’ll want to focus on the more interesting or appealing parts of a position. Regardless, you’ll want to storyboard your videos ahead of time.

Edit With the Viewer in Mind

A lot of VR applications are showcased at job fairs or recruitment events. You likely won’t have a lot of time with each candidate, so keep your VR videos short and focus on putting the most important material first. You never know at what point a job candidate will remove the VR headset, so don’t save the best features for last.

You can also do either passive VR or active VR: Passive VR involves the candidate watching videos passively, while active VR has the user interacting with the virtual environment. They could, for instance, look at a piece of equipment, which then initiates a video showing how that equipment works. The number of booth visitors you anticipate and likely amount of time spent with each candidate can dictate whether you choose to create passive or active VR — with the former being the best fit for shorter time periods or large numbers of viewers.

Distribute VR for Maximum Impact

There are a number of different VR headsets you can use for displaying your VR application, everything from the high-end HTC Vive (used by Toyota High Systems) to the mobile but very immersive Samsung Gear VR (used by the USDA) to the lower-cost but easy-to-brand Google Cardboard. Just like when you consider VR app length, the number of visitors and length of visits you anticipate will dictate your headset choice. (Google Cardboard is good for large numbers of viewers, while HTC Vive and Gear VR is better for smaller, more concentrated meetings.)

But it’s also important to remember that every iPhone or Android smartphone now has the capability to show 360-degree video apps. So that same VR experience you show to candidates on an HTC Vive or Gear VR can be distributed to their phones — which not only is a nice takeaway item, but also allows them to show others the VR experience you’ve spent time carefully crafting.

Creating VR: The Time Is Now

Ultimately, we’re moving away from asking whether you use VR in recruiting to exploring how you should use VR in recruiting. With so much weight now given to facets of a job beyond pay and day-to-day responsibilities — such as cultural fit and workplace environment — VR is becoming the best way to show these areas to candidates regardless of their location. Virtual reality doesn’t have to be the main focus at your recruiting events, but it’s increasingly becoming an important arrow in the quivers of recruiters.

#WorkTrends: The Talent Fix

The labor market is humming right along, and competition for good workers is stiff. Is your talent-acquisition process also humming like a finely tuned machine, or are you pointing fingers at each other because you can’t recruit good employees?

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to Tim Sackett about ways to improve talent acquisition. Sackett is a 20-year HR professional who has led HR organizations and worked for HR tech vendors.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends. His new book, “The Talent Fix,” is a guide for building a better talent-acquisition team.

The Talent Ownership Question

Who owns talent right now? Sackett says that’s the one question he really tries to force every head of HR or talent acquisition to ask their executive team. Most executives will assume you want their vote of confidence and will say, “You do, you’re the person who owns it.” However, he says that’s the wrong answer, and that this type of thinking will lead to failure. Ownership has to belong to the people who actually make the selection — it has to be the hiring managers at the ground level.

“If you took your team out on a team-building exercise tomorrow and you guys got hit by a train and everybody died, your organization wouldn’t stop,” Sackett says. “The hiring manager would attend your funeral and mourn your loss and then say, ‘By the way, we have to fill this developer position.’ ” And they would go through the process of trying to find someone.

While that’s a worst-case scenario, Sackett says the goal of every company should be to let hiring managers own their own team, and own their own talent. The role of HR and talent acquisition should be a partner that provides assistance. When you’re in a meeting and someone asks, “Hey Mary, why aren’t you filling that position on your team?” and the response is that TA isn’t finding anyone, that’s an epic fail. “Executives should look Mary in the face and say, ‘What are you talking about recruiting for? Your job is to fill your team. What are you doing?’ ”

What Talent Ownership Looks Like

If you’re not familiar with this concept, it might seem inconceivable, but there are companies successfully using these principles. “I ran TA for Applebee’s, which has roughly 2,000 restaurants and 125,000 employees,” Sackett says. He notes the chain has a general manager who is the top person at each location. “They tell every GM that ‘you’re not going to be a victim; you’re never going to complain about not having enough talent, because talent acquisition is your responsibility.’ ”

Complaining about staffing is seen as saying, “You need to replace me, I’m no good at my job,” because that’s their No. 1 job, Sackett says. So a GM needs to be great at recruiting or great at retention, and they can ask HR and TA for help. “They’ll prop you up and they will give you every resource they have to help you, but you have to own it,” Sackett says.

Building the Right Talent-Acquisition Team

Sackett has worked in recruiting, so he’s been on both sides of the desk. He runs a staffing firm and worked in staffing, but also spent about a decade on the corporate TA side. One thing he said he has noticed is that half of these team members really aren’t recruiters. “They love being a recruiter in a corporate job, they love that $85,000 salary, and they love working 9 to 5 and not taking work home — but they’re not recruiters.” He says they may be doing
administrative recruiting, such as posting a job on their career site, but then they sit around waiting for somebody to apply before plowing that person through their process, and that’s not real recruiting.

But Sackett says that when he talks to TA leaders, they don’t want to let these non-recruiters go because they’re “great people.” “I’m not saying they’re bad people — I’m saying they’re not recruiters, and you want to recruit a team but you’re asking people who don’t want to recruit to be recruiters,” he says.

He says it’s like being a hunter who doesn’t want to kill — but hunters have to kill. “Recruiting is all about going out and finding the best talent. It’s not about filtering through the talent that is available that wants to come to work for your average pay, your average benefits and your average location.”

Also, even if you get great people, you can’t bring them into the organization and ask them to do the same administrative job as the previous employees. “You have to change the culture internally to make it more of a marketing-/sales-driven culture, more of an activity-based culture,” he says. “You actually have to have really great measurables and actually hold them accountable to those, so it’s basic performance management.”

Talent Acquisition Isn’t Technology

In addition, Sackett cautions against looking to HR technology as a savior. Often, he says, the new tech you might look at probably will do 90 percent to 95 percent of what your old tech does. “If you already suck at recruiting, the technology’s just going to make you suck faster, because that’s what technology does” — it allows you to move faster and more efficiently, but it doesn’t make you better at your job. “You already have to be good at recruiting, and then technology will actually make you better at it,” he says.

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

#WorkTrends: The Recruiter’s Handbook

How strong are your recruiting muscles? Does your organization work every day on improving recruiting skills?

In my experience, recruiting is often overlooked and downplayed. Even people who work in other areas of HR don’t always understand how important recruiting is in the employee journey.

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to Sharlyn Lauby, president of consulting firm ITM Group and founder of HR Bartender, about a subject close to my heart: better recruiting. Sharlyn recently wrote a book, “The Recruiter’s Handbook,” that outlines how to improve your recruiting skills every step of the way.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

Realize the Importance of Recruiting

“The recruiting function is important because it’s the first impression many people have of the organization. Employees remember the person who hired them,” she says.

But she didn’t always understand how important recruiting is. Sharlyn was an HR generalist, and when a boss first gave her the task of recruiting, she felt like it was a punishment. But once she took over the role, she realized how complex and weighty recruiting was.

“I’ve always worked in industries where the candidate could also be a customer,” she says. That dual role of candidate and customer means it’s important that everyone in the organization realizes that people who are coming in to apply for jobs are the same people who are purchasing rooms in your hotel or meals from your restaurant. “You have to think about the candidate/customer experience at every touchpoint along the way,” she says.

Work Together Across the Employee Experience

There’s a healthy debate among recruiters and HR leaders about where talent acquisition fits in a company’s org chart. Sharlyn says the answer to that question doesn’t really matter — what matters is how well talent acquisition teams work with other HR teams to streamline the candidate and employee experience. From recruiting to training to benefits, the experience needs to be easy and logical.

Embrace Every Resource Available

Technology has changed every aspect of HR, Sharlyn says. She sees big potential for recruiters who can use all the tools available, including social media. In the old days, we had to amplify opportunities on a personal, one-to-one level, she says. These days, social media makes getting the word out about an organization much easier and faster. She encourages companies to embrace social media and encourage employees to use it in ways that advance their work.

She also encourages HR professionals and other leaders to seek out professional organizations like SHRM, as well as local training programs and leadership-development classes.

Make Your Mark

If you’re working in talent acquisition and you want to make an impact on the business, Sharlyn says you should start by understanding the core drivers of the business. “Show people how things like interviewing are connected to the mission, vision and values of the organization. We need to know how we contribute to the organization and how we’re going to make our mark. Understand how the business operates, the key positions within the organization and how they contribute to the bottom line.”

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

How AI Makes Hiring More Accurate and More Personal

AI is projected to catapult from a $643.7 million market today to $36.8 billion by 2025. Bersin by Deloitte calls it one of the ten major trends changing everything about how we build and manage the world of work. It’s becoming an incredibly powerful tool for recruiting, though not always understood. There are two questions I often hear:

How can we use AI to better match skills to openings?

How can we use AI to make the entire recruiting and hiring journey better, and improve candidate experience?

Before delving into specifics, consider this: Essentially, if A, then B. Just as AI is changing the game, we have to change how we see it: it’s a tool with multiple benefits at once. In other words: if we are better at sourcing the talent to find those with the right skills to match the right job opening, then the candidate experience will be better.

In this regard, AI is a positive disruption that not only improves how we find candidates, but how they experience the process of being found. All along the recruiting journey it works faster and more efficiently by profound degrees. And at the same time it has a tremendous impact on candidate experience. Let’s look at common pain points to recruiters and candidates and see how AI improves the outcome:

Recruiter Pain Point: Too Many Applications

A common pain point among recruiters is the sheer onslaught of digital applications — whether or not an applicant is actually qualified, with the required skills. We can’t put too fine a point on this: Job seekers spend an average of 49.7 seconds reading a job description, and 14.6 seconds of that is spent on the actual requirements of the job. Then, many just hit send. According to Glassdoor, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes on average. Of those, four to six are called for an interview — and one gets the job. Getting from 250 resumes and 4 to 6 callbacks per job is a whole lot of sorting.

AI Solution: Finding Soft Skills

AI can use pattern matching to connect the dots between job requirements and the skills and training listed on a resume. Machine learning means that AI can also get better at this the more it works, from building a bank of alternate phrases and variations it recognizes to tailoring its rankings to factor in other criteria. And AI can find soft skills just as quickly as hard skills. For instance, consider Arya: this new AI recruiting platform learns who the ideal candidate is through a combination of machine learning, big data and behavioral pattern recognition.

AI Solution: Assessing Fit

AI can also take an extremely educated and predictive guess about how a candidate may do in the long term, addressing concerns about ROI without bias. AI can use past hiring and employee records and patterns to get a clearer picture of the relative success and fit of a hire — and can identify potential blind spots of training gaps, enabling companies to put the services in place that support a better outcome.

Candidate Pain Point: an Overlong Application Process

Let’s face it: the digital environment has changed many job applicants’ perception of time. To a candidate in this digital environment, hours feel like days and days like weeks. Time, particularly for digital native generations, has shrunk — and the etiquette of responding to a message has radically changed. This is just one point of friction out of many in terms of how a candidate experiences the application process today. A delay in getting notified can feel like a rejection even if it’s not.

But while recruiters famously spend an average of 6 seconds reading a resume, finding the right hire for one job may take more than 20 hours. (And rare indeed is the recruiter tasked with filling one job at a time.) The wait — particularly if a candidate has been contacted by an organization’s hiring team — can feel like a hurry up and wait hustle, and may sour a candidate experience. Whether the result is a turn towards a different employer, or simply an element of disengagement in the process, it can stop a recruiter-candidate relationship before it starts. But recruiters simply don’t have the time or, most often, the person power to contact every applicant every step of the way.

AI Solution: Recruiters Don’t Do the Heavy Lifting

Allocating the heavy data sorting to AI frees more time for reading the resumes that actually matter. It means that unqualified candidates can be notified faster, and qualified candidates are really qualified — and the recruiter has had more time to spend getting to know them on paper before an interview. But additionally, AI can work as the messenger. For example, when a promising candidate is found with the qualifications and skills that match, Arya can reach out with a personalized message. If a candidate is interested, the connection has already been made — and a recruiter can take it from there. Instead of radio silence, there’s AI at work for you.

The myth that AI-powered recruiting is impersonal and inaccurate is just that: a misassumption about the power of AI. With the ability to greatly increase searches to radically cut down on searching time, as well as a way to reach out and develop a talent pipeline, AI enables recruiters to get back to what they know how to do best: spend time getting to know promising candidates, and find the best fit for each job. And for candidates, AI enables frequent contact and a faster process that improves their experience — and may just affect their decision to join your organization.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.

How Retail Hiring Will Change in the Next 5 Years

The shopping experience has changed a lot over the past 10 years. But the experience of applying for a retail job is pretty stuck in the past.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 there were nearly 5 million retail sales jobs in the U.S. While the retail industry is changing fast and moving from brick-and-mortar to online, retailers still employ a large demographic of Americans. And retailers that want to attract and retain those workers will need to stay innovative.

We asked Kimberly Carroll, principal at HR consulting firm IA, how she sees recruiting and hiring changing among her retail clients.

Goodbye to Paper Applications

“If you can’t hire people quickly, you’re in trouble,” she says. If you’re working with paper applications, like a lot of retailers still are, you slow down the hiring pipeline and deter young applicants. “Especially with seasonal hiring, you need to be able to get candidates in quickly and stay in contact with them.”

Many retailers hire thousands of seasonal employees around the holidays. When you have to manually process paper applications, you can’t quickly assess, hire and onboard candidates — and you likely can’t stay in touch with them about future openings. For all those reasons, paper applications are quickly on their way out as companies move to fully digital hiring processes.

A Better Application Experience

Even the retailers that offer online applications for hourly employees still have big opportunities to improve the user experience. “These days, it’s all about the candidate experience,” she says. Retailers can take a page from tech companies’ playbooks and spend more time understanding their users: the applicants.

“Create a more unified experience,” she says. “Don’t send applicants to different apps and websites to do E-Verify and background checks. Keep them on one online platform, with one look and feel.”

Same-Day Hiring

Carroll mapped out a typical retail hiring scenario. A candidate goes to the mall to apply for jobs. They fill out a paper application, they talk to the store manager — and then they leave the store without a clear answer about next steps, since the manager has to get the employee into the system and go through approvals to make a hire.

But other retailers, maybe at the same mall, support same-day hiring. The candidate can walk a few yards away from that first business and get a job on the spot. “As soon as an applicant leaves, you’ve lost them,” she says.

Amazon is a retailer that’s set a new standard for hiring speed. At Amazon, candidates can fill out an application online and schedule an interview, after which they can be hired on the spot and even start working that day.

When it comes to competing for retail talent, it’s all about speed, Carroll says.

Daily Pay

Not only are companies figuring out how to hire someone right away, Carroll says she’s talking to companies that are paying employees every day.

“Companies are looking at paying retail employees on a daily basis. They’re saying, ‘Can we support that? And if we can, why not do it?’” She says employees are drawn to the instant gratification of immediate pay for every day they work, instead of waiting for a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly check.

Retention Programs for Hourly Employees

For most brick-and-mortar retailers, the largest employee demographic is hourly workers. Retaining hourly workers is always a challenge, but there’s an opportunity to retain and promote those employees, offering them growth beyond entry-level positions.“If you keep losing those employees, you’re losing the skill set you might want in the future. So, the most successful retail organizations are building leaders from within, focusing on retaining more of their hourly workforce,” she says.

She suggests building a career path that starts at the entry-level, hourly position. “People put such a focus on higher education, but there’s nothing wrong with starting at an entry-level job and moving up,” she says. “Take an interest in those employees. Teach them skills, help them process, and turn the job into a career. Retailers need to extend their retention programs to hourly workers, not just salaried employees. ”

5 Ways AI Makes Hiring Easier

It’s one thing to see AI coming our way in HR. It’s another thing to know the best ways to harness it to improve sourcing and hiring success. AI isn’t just on the horizon — it’s part of some very forward-thinking recruiting and hiring programs already. Given how tight the job market is, AI is a way to give organizations a tangible edge on the competition. It facilitates a far more accurate way to see a far greater range and depth of talent — which means it’s easier to find better candidates — and more of them. And AI enables hiring teams to make and maintain radically better connections with talent, garner a far better sense of fit over a whole spectrum of criteria and frankly, be more human than we’ve been in a long time.

There’s no reason for any organization to shy away from AI’s capability — whether a big Silicon Valley firm or a small and lean startup. And leveling the playing field and reaching the same candidates as a larger organization, let alone a direct competitor, is just a matter of knowing how to use AI.

So, we decided to break down AI into five best practices along the hiring journey. We’re using a hypothetical hiring team we’re calling Talent Inc. to look at the five critical phases of talent acquisition, and how Talent Inc. draws on AI for tremendous advantages that result in better hires. This is an approach any hiring team can take:

Finding Talent

Our ambitious recruiting team at Talent Inc. has been tasked with sourcing 250 new hires for a growing company. These are positions from entry-level to senior management, covering a whole range of functions. Talent Inc.’s objective is to stretch their reach as far as possible to find the largest pool of talent they can. Their last AI-powered hiring campaign for this company was highly successful — and they still have all the data on the search patterns and strategies that found the best hires. This time, the team draws on that data to source a larger pool of similar candidates for the company’s new locations. They create a wireless “geofence” around specific locations. Automatically, the sourcing program gathers hordes of resumes of geographically segmented and promising candidates. Meanwhile, the team looks at the existing data on previous candidates and hires to see where there might be interest in relocating or moving up the ranks.

Making Connections

Since AI tools have done the heavy lifting for them, the team at Talent Inc. is ready to start sorting through the resumes of qualified candidates and reach out. They tailor their approaches to what they already know about these candidates — collected via AI — to make these vital first connections, using hiring events, social and mobile messages, and personalized emails. They begin to put together prospective talent pools for each level of hire, and start digging into resumes to see if they’re coming up short or sourcing sufficiently. They automatically set up and maintain an ATS. Since the whole team is working on the same platform with access to the same information, they can quickly set up automated tasks for AI to complete that will help them pinpoint ideal candidates for each position, and they can start reaching out to candidates who stand out.

Tending to the Talent

Even before they start screening for skills, competencies and experience, there are already conversations going on between prospective candidates and the hiring team. It’s not the hiring people doing the talking: there’s no phone tag or cumbersome emails. Instead, the candidates are engaging with a sophisticated virtual assistant. Candidates who show interest can do a pre-screening quickly with a chatbot, asking questions and getting a clearer picture on the position. Each conversation offers dynamic, responsive messaging and produces data on the candidate that the virtual assistant can share with the team at Talent Inc.

In the time it might take to reach out and have one initial conversation with one candidate, countless exchanges have already taken place and candidates are already engaged in the application process. There’s now a whole pool of candidates entering the talent pipeline, already having a positive experience and interested in finding out what comes next. Many of these candidates are digital natives, well used to interacting with chatbots and at ease with the process — and to them, the process implies that the employer is appealingly forward-thinking in its approach to business and people. Now candidates can start having real-time conversations with the recruiting team, who already know a great deal about each candidate before they talk — and can tailor their conversations based on what they know.

Making Sure the Fit Is Just Right

With 250 positions to fill, there’s little time to spend on potentially poor hires. But AI has already created predictive analytics on who may make the grade and be a great fit. A whole array of criteria has been used to create screenings and pinpoint promising matches, and the HR team can rely on the data to help narrow down the best candidates for each position — and find candidates that might be better fits for other positions they may not have applied for.

In each case, the hiring team can take time to get to know each candidate, whether in conversation or formal interviews, as the human recruiters are freed up from repetitive and tedious administrative tasks now being executed by the AI software. While the average recruiter only spends six seconds on a candidate’s resume, the team at Talent Inc. gets to know all the great candidates they can — and based on the data already gathered, there’s lots to talk about

Keeping the Hiring Process Going

Providing an outstanding candidate experience that really conveys the potential employer’s brand is a one of Talent Inc.’s core values. All the portals and dashboards prospective hires are using during this process are layered with the look, feel, mission and message of the employer. Interviews are being set up with the top-tier prospects within the company, but the employer and the hiring team have partnered on a new initiative of different interviewing tools.

A recent study on LinkedIn found that key hiring trends for 2018 include different kinds of interviews and conversations, adding more of a human side to the classic mano-a-mano. That may include online skills assessments — which may be built around the data AI has gathered already on candidates. There are VR options for “trying out” the position in the virtual workplace, job “auditions,” video interviews, and far more casual interviews that set both interviewer and candidate at ease and allow for more meaningful and spontaneous conversations. The data intelligence has enabled recruiters to use their emotional intelligence. Soon Talent Inc. has recommended a pool of terrific candidates for the expanding firm, is monitoring and facilitating the application process, and has also maintained connections with those who may not apply this round, but may in the future.

“21st-century HR isn’t about playing it safe,” noted IBM’s David Green in a recent article by Arya on the role of AI in HR. AI has enabled our hypothetical recruiters at Talent Inc. to keep their employer ahead of the competition — sourcing the best talent in an extremely short window of time using the power of data and AI, and the freedom these tools give them to provide a terrific candidate experience that reflects the employer and sets up hires for engagement and success.

Every interaction has added to the data gathered on each candidate, and improved the recruiter’s understanding of the relative strength and fit of that candidate with regards to the company. AI has predicted outcomes and suggested plans based on previous successes to drive better hires and forecast future hiring needs. AI has also kept a close watch on any skills gaps or problematic screenings, reducing risk and paying attention to ROI, while recruiters are spending more time with each candidate, establishing a connection and a relationship. The result is a whole crop of promising new hires who can help the organization continue its growth.

And based on the data gleaned during this hiring phase and over the course of onboarding, development, and indeed the employee journey, AI can improve the next hiring push even more. If I could pat the team at Talent Inc. on the virtual back, I would.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.

The 2017 Talent Board Candidate Experience Research: 4 Takeaways

How’s your candidate experience looking?

And just as importantly, how does it stack up to your competition?

In this year’s Talent Board candidate experience 2017 research, we heard from 220,000 job seekers from around the world who applied for jobs at more than 300 employers.

Through these candidate surveys, we built a picture of the current state of candidate experience, as well as the tools, processes and technologies employers use to shape that experience.

So what’s the big picture result?

We took one step forward. And…one step back.

What’s Improving

Here’s the good news for people obsessed with candidate experience (like me): Over the past three years, we’ve seen an overall incremental positive trend among very satisfied candidates. Candidates who give their experience 5/5 stars say they’ll increase their business relationship with the employer. That means they’re likely to apply again, refer others and buy stuff. That trend is true across all three global regions we survey.

Figure 1. A Great Candidate Experience

What’s Not

While happy candidates are more likely to stay loyal to employer companies, unhappy candidates are more likely to sever their relationships with companies. More 1-star candidates (who rate their candidate experience at just one out of five stars) say they’ll sever their business relationship. This is not good news. Candidates who are less likely to apply again, refer others and buy stuff if can certainly impact the business bottom line.

Figure 2. A Poor Candidate Experience

So what’s the takeaway for employers?

Improving candidate experience is a long game, with a lot of ups and downs along the way. Asking candidates (most of whom don’t get the job) to rate their experience isn’t for the faint of heart. But the insights you learn are worth it.

If you’re dedicated to improving your organization’s candidate experience, here are four lessons you can learn from this year’s research.

What We Can Learn from the 2017 Candidate Experience Research

Open New Communication Channels

Corporate marketing and customer service aren’t the only teams today using social media channels and websites to serve “customers.” Savvy employers are making their recruiting teams available to answer questions during live chats on career sites and social media, as well as experimenting with chatbots to answer general employment questions. The latter frees up the recruiting teams to have more hands-on time with potential candidates already in play.

Walk in the Candidate’s Shoes

Employers must be willing to admit that their existing application process may not be working. In order to think about the application process from the candidates’ perspective, more and more organizations are thankfully applying for their own jobs, especially the CandE Award winners, and are reaping the benefits of incrementally improving their application process.

To Set Yourself Apart, Focus on Communication and Feedback

CandE Award winners continue to differentiate themselves by communicating more with candidates, giving candidates feedback earlier in the recruiting process, and asking candidates for feedback even before they apply for a job. Most candidates who have an overall “very poor” 1-star and 2-star candidate experience — representing tens of thousands of candidates in the Talent Board research — are getting very little if any consistent communication or feedback, a missed opportunity in a highly competitive talent marketplace.

Remember the Connection Between Candidate Experience and the Bottom Line

As I shared, candidates who had a negative overall experience say they will take their alliance, purchases and relationship somewhere else. This means a potential loss of revenue for consumer-based businesses, and a loss of referral networks for all companies. Plus, it means losing potential future-fit and silver-medalist candidates. However, the good news is that those who had a great overall experience say they’ll definitely increase their employer relationships – they’ll apply again, refer others and make purchases when applicable. These aren’t just the job finalists either, or those hired, but the individuals who research and apply for jobs and aren’t hired. If you need a data point to tie candidate experience to business results, this is it.

We’re already looking ahead at next year. If you’re interested in participating in the 2018 Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards benchmark research program, you can register your organization now.

3 Ways to Build a Long-Term Recruiting Strategy

In a talent crunch, it’s easy for recruiters and hiring managers to focus on filling open slots. But that approach can give you tunnel vision when it comes to the candidates who could be a good fit for other roles.

Organizations need to move away from a requisition-style talent strategy and build candidate-centric recruiting models, says Kurt Heikkinen, CEO of Montage. “You’re not looking just for the gold medalist for a specific position; you’re building talent communities and pipelines and finding ways to place those silver medalists, too,” he says. “If you get too refined in your selection process, you might not be fast enough to win the gold or silver candidate, or even the bronze.”

Here are three tips for rethinking your recruiting process.

Think Proactively

First, examine your business and workforce, and consider where you expect them to go. Your talent strategy should take a more holistic and long-term perspective to take advantage of a deeper pool of candidates, Heikkinen says. Determine the kinds of skills you’re looking to acquire and the kinds you can develop, as well as the personalities and traits that are the best cultural fit. Doing so will make you proactive rather than transactional when mapping out talent needs, Heikkinen says.

“You want to interview someone on who they are, not just on the basis on how they might fit for one job,” says Krista Allen, branch manager of finance and accounting at Addison Group. If they are a culture fit or have good communication skills, you may be able to train them on the skill sets they need to know for a position that may come up later.

Measure and Record

Using digital tools will take your interviewing process past “gut feelings” into pinpoint accuracy about a candidate’s suitability for your organization. Assessments can help indicate how and why a second-place candidate might be good for your organization in another capacity, Heikkinen says, eliminating the need to start the search process all over when it’s time to hire again.

Enabling candidates to use digital tools on their end can help you create a searchable record that makes second-place finishers easier to recall when you have a new opening. “If you follow the traditional process of a resume and a phone screen and interview notes, over the course of a couple of months that information is limited and recall is difficult,” Heikkinen says. “But if you’ve provided the candidates with a chance to share skills and experiences through video, you have a recorded profile with deeper information and faster recall.”

Stay Connected With Second Place

Even if you don’t hire someone you’ve interviewed, you know they made it through several hoops to get where they did with your organization. To build a deep talent pool, you’ll now have to keep those candidates interacting with your company even as they consider their other choices, Heikkinen says. Use on-demand text messaging and chatbots to keep those second-place finishers informed about new job openings and opportunities with your company.

Building and sustaining these connections with candidates who almost (but not quite) made it will give you a talent community you can tap into when the need arises. “Relationships matter,” Allen says. “Use technology to keep in touch with these people so you’re ready when a hot job comes in — then you’re not scrambling and reactive.”

How to Leverage AI Recruiting to Make Better Hires

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HR and recruiters don’t tend to take things at face value. For good reason: we’re called on to rely on our educated judgments. We’re in the business of futurecasting, person by person. We find the best talent with the most potential for doing great things for an employer in the near future, and we do it over and over again. But we’ve been up for a turbocharge for a long time. A career path that is this intense, combining administrative, personal, and strategic tasking constantly needs sophisticated ways to advance above old archaic practices we no longer want to rely on. With AI, we have it.

AI conducts its own version of futurecasting. It’s a fast and efficient supporting player that can scale up our efforts and free us the bandwidth so we can focus on the one-to-one. Fact is, AI is rapidly disrupting recruiting in a good way. But ask someone what it means and you may get a head-scratch. For anyone who’s been looking for a simple basic explanation of what and how AI recruiting works, here it is. One caveat: let’s not call this “AI for Dummies.” No one here is a dummy, and no matter how sophisticated AI is, talent acquisition needs your acumen, intelligence, and expertise.

Here’s a breakdown of five ways AI is taking recruiting to the next level, and knowing how to leverage what it’s capable of — that’s the ace up our sleeves.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is sometimes defined as the ability to “act without having to be programmed,” but what that means is that AI can comprehend, reason, and learn from every data point, interaction, and outcome. AI puts incredible muscle and speed into analyzing vast amounts of data and arriving at very specific, data-driven observations and predictions.

One way it works: It can find out if a certain hire might be a good fit or whether an employer is going to suffer from a skills gap. It can look at how we’ve been recruiting and find the weak points to make predictions and recommendations. And it can refine its own processes, looking at prior successes and failures to amplify or reframe its own approach.

Big Data

The cloud has essentially blown open the universe as far as the capacity for data. We’re now measuring data in terms of hundreds of zettabytes, being processed and archived and reprocessed and parsed at incredible speed. What we have to work with now was inconceivable even a year ago, let alone a decade, and its revolutionized talent sourcing. It’s not just about static information: this is data that can be accessed and analyzed from countless angles — with statistical models, predictive algorithms, innovative filters, with actionable results.

One way it works: Instead of a recruiter having to devote long hours to manually search through 200 contacts on a spreadsheet, AI creates a recruiting nerve center that can search and analyze massive volumes of applicants.

Pattern Recognition

Old-school recruiting, particularly for rapidly expanding organizations, could feel like searching for a needle in a haystack and like reinventing the same wheel over and over. AI can identify and learn from a recruiter’s most successful patterns — and then replicate them, adjusting for all manner of contexts or requirements. It can also find instances of bias and create ways to overcome them.

One way it works: we can take a job description, and use hiring successes from the past to find the most likely qualified candidates — wherever they are, from a database to a job board to social media. We can identify the likelihood of a hire being a success, identity the potential skills gaps or blind spots of weak points, clarify our best sources, and above all, retain the information. It becomes part an organization’s proprietary wisdom, building up a strong foundation for recruiting successes to come.


There’s message — the DNA and brand culture an organization conveys, and then there’s messaging — which is, often, the way that DNA and culture are carried out into the talent market. What AI does is facilitate fast, effective, and dynamic messaging. It begins to build relationships with the right candidates as soon as they’re identified, engaging and even pre-screening them before they have their first real contact or interaction with a recruiter. But it’s not an alienating or generic form of messaging. It’s multilayered, highly attuned and customized to the individual organization and the individual candidate — based on the information already learned and collected, and integrated with an ATS.

One way it works: Chatbots are no longer an alien life-form online: they’re a part of our entire system of communication, commerce, fact finding, an accepted form of exchanging information. AI can provide meaningful, relevant answers to candidate’s questions, and then share this with the recruiter. It makes it possible to spark engagement, maintain and build a connection, and then pass the best candidates to the recruiter to get them started on the actual process of hiring. All without cumbersome emails threads, phone tag, or awkward texts.


AI packs a powerful punch: it can process massive amounts of recruiting, hiring, engagement, performance and behavioral data from millions of prospects. It can focus and search for skills, behavioral and even cultural matches. But even more than that, it empowers recruiters with the single most important resource to stay on target: a viable, dynamic, visible talent pipeline.

Frankly, it’s a game-changer: AI is a game-changing innovation that brings the best of HR to organizations no matter their size, location, or field. In this highly competitive talent market, it gives recruiters a vital resource. It enables recruiters to move candidates into the pipeline and keep track of them automatically, an effective way to maintain visibility across the broadest possible spectrum of talent that enables recruiters to act when they see a potential great fit. It’s also another way to overcome unconscious bias and increase diversity and inclusion.

What AI does is enhance the recruiting across the whole journey. It provides recruiters with a far broader and more accurately gathered pool of candidates, the tools to engage candidates sooner and more effectively, and the means to tend to a pipeline that can be searched and refined according to scaling or changing needs. It’s not really an option, either — as AI becomes part of how organizations function now, it’s changing the very Future of Work — even before we bring the talent to the door.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.


5 Ways to Rethink Your Recruiting Strategy

Over my three-decade career, I have had the opportunity to work with many HR teams. Overall, if I had to grade HR’s effectiveness in bringing in the talent necessary for long term success, I’d give them a mixed review.

Even though many HR pros would argue that one of their key roles is recruitment, my observation is that HR teams tend to focus more on the administrative aspects of the role — managing payroll and benefits, coordinating training and development plans, ensuring compliance, and administering reward programs.

I was always concerned that HR leadership didn’t give a high enough priority to recruiting. Recruiting the best people means defining and acquiring the skills and competencies necessary to deliver superlative performance and to meet the challenges of a highly competitive environment.

I think HR can make a difference in discovering the best people and bringing them into the organization. But they have to change the way they work and approach their mandate differently.

Here are five ways HR leaders can redirect the HR team’s energy and produce better recruiting results.

Think About HR as a Strategic Player

Redefine human resources to be 80% strategic tool and 20% practitioner. Getting strategic means having a deep understanding of the strategic game plan of the organization and then translating it to what it specifically means to HR.

At many organizations, that might mean taking a hard turn away from practicing the discipline of HR, and starting a new role leading the execution of the people piece of the organization’s strategy.

As the president of the data and internet business unit for a major telecom organization, I held regular sessions with HR leadership to present and clarify not only the strategy for my business unit, but the strategy for the entire organization. My goal was to refocus their priorities away from practicing HR to serving as a strategic support. We invested considerable time in defining exactly what they should be doing to support the strategy and enable its success.

Define the New Skills You Need in Your Organization

Develop a specific people acquisition strategy with a focus on the new skills and competencies your organization will need to succeed in the future. It should be a strategy on its own rather than a component of the overall HR strategy and should outrank other more pedantic elements on the HR task list.

Then, move beyond strategy into doing. Make a tactical implementation plan to recruit new individuals and develop existing talent. Assign key milestones and accountabilities.

When my team implemented this process, we identified specific individuals we wanted to bring to the organization, as well as employees who should move laterally to apply their skills to different roles. We also had to make the tough call about employees whose skills were no longer relevant to the strategy of the organization.

Get Buy-In From Other Business Leaders

It’s important that the leaders responsible for delivering the overall strategy to the market understand and approve the people strategy. They are the clients of HR who depend on the right people with the right competencies being available at the right time.

All too often, HR views its client as the chief executive and other executive leaders when it should be focusing on the business leaders charged with executing the organization’s strategy.

As a leader, I made it a priority to engage HR in business matters and ask for their leadership to deliver a people plan that enabled my organization to achieve its business goals.

Dive Deep Into Your Target Talent Pools

Once you know what skills your organization needs, it’s time to actively engage with those talent communities. If, for example, software development skills are critical to delivering the organization’s plan, it’s HR’s job to find out where developers share their experiences and hone their competencies. They must embed themselves in those organizations and cultivate relationships with high-potential individuals who could be recruited at the appropriate time.

The end game for HR: build a brand of being the go-to organization for people with that skill set.

Change the Way You Measure HR Performance

How are you currently measuring performance? If bringing in new skills is a strategic priority, measure and reward it. Implement an internal report card that rates the performance of HR on strategic initiatives.

HR should not see themselves in the human resource management business. The prime objective of HR is to recruit the people with the skills and competencies needed to advance the organization’s strategic agenda. Period.

How You Reject a Job Candidate Defines Your Recruitment Strategy

An organization’s HR team can create advocates out of any applicant—even the rejected ones—by ensuring each candidate has a positive experience. But too many organizations ignore, or blunder through the potentially unpleasant part of the recruitment process in which hopeful candidates must be told “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Delivering bad news can be a daunting task, said Diane Nicholas, a consultant at WK Advisors, a division of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, based in Oak Brook, Ill. “When companies fail to provide feedback and close the loop with unsuccessful candidates, they miss out on the opportunity to end the process on a high note and ensure that the candidate walks away with a positive lasting impression.”

When candidates are rejected in a dismissive manner—or worse, if they never hear back from an employer at all—that news travels fast, said Brin McCagg, the CEO and founder of RecruitiFi, a crowd-based recruiting platform in New York City. “Whether it’s through social media or word of mouth, potential candidates will get wind of your hiring process. Even a generic response is better than no response.”

Experts agree that HR should be trained to consider the candidate rejection process a vital piece of the company’s recruitment strategy, with immediate and long-term benefits to the company, if done well.

“Your response is a direct reflection on your company’s brand,” McCagg said. “There’s plenty of reasons to put as much time into considering your rejection strategy as you put into your hiring strategy.”

The Medium Is the Message

Experts agree that if candidates have taken the time to actually interview for a role, they deserve a phone call. “You owe it to finalists to speak with them directly,” said Chad MacRae, the founder of Recruiting Social, a social recruiting firm based in Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada. “Don’t hide behind an e-mail. When the candidate answers the phone, inform them you have an update, ask if it’s a good time to speak, and if it is, rip the Band-Aid off and get it out.”

Nicole Belyna, SHRM-SCP, strategic recruitment business partner at Thompson Creek Window Company, in Lanham, Md., lives by hard rules when turning down candidates. If they have interviewed in person, they receive a call. If they went through a phone screen they receive a personalized e-mail. If they’ve applied, but did not interview, they receive a general e-mail letting them know that they were not selected. “I have never declined a candidate via text message,” Belyna said. “Call me old fashioned.”

To Be Safe or to Be Honest?

There are varying schools of thought on what recruiters should say to rejected candidates—for example, whether to give a general, neutral reason for not moving forward or instead offer constructive feedback.

The safe option goes like this: “Thank you for applying, but we have decided to pursue other applicants.” This one is popular with HR and legal counsel because it’s easy to maintain, and keeps recruiters from getting into uncomfortable arguments with candidates or making inadvertent, discriminatory statements.

Providing specific reasons for rejection or trying to coach the candidate is admirable, and some applicants may be grateful for the honest feedback. But the approach can backfire when the applicant debates the decision or uses what was said to file an employment complaint.

“I find that the best way to communicate rejection is to be honest and straightforward,” McCagg said. “Be truthful with candidates and they’ll appreciate your honesty. There’s no need to string them along or tell them that a position may open up in the future. If that’s true, fine. If you’re just sugarcoating their rejection, then it’s the wrong way to go about it.”

Nicholas said that while she thinks it’s important to give feedback, there are times when recruiters should hold back, especially if candidates are being rejected for something of a personal nature. “I tell them they have a great background, but they don’t have a certain piece of experience that the employer was looking for,” Nicholas said. “I always leave them with hope. I tell them if something changes, I’ll be back in touch. I emphasize the positive and minimize the criticism.”

McCagg sees every rejection as a chance for candidates to improve. “Maybe they’re missing the necessary training or certificates, maybe they have a number of typos in their resume. If you find certain deficiencies, you can give them a tip or pointer on how to learn and grow for next time. Just make sure you’re constructive about it.”

MacRae advised those in the hiring process to debrief following interviews and record each candidate’s pros and cons in the organization’s applicant tracking system. “That way recruiters have it at their fingertips when they follow up with candidates,” he said.

Danielle Marchant, a partner at Recruiting Social, explained that if communication with the candidate was open, honest and authentic throughout the hiring process, rejection will be less uncomfortable. “If you’ve nurtured your relationship along the way, there won’t be as much recoil. They’ll understand you see their value even if you’re not moving forward.”

Dealing with Pushback

Recruiters delivering bad news to candidates must be prepared to deal with emotional and confrontational reactions. Inevitably, candidates want to know why they were rejected.

Belyna said that in her experience, more candidates ask for a second chance. But some can grow nasty. “I had one candidate become very nasty and irate. He responded to my e-mail with a phone call to tell me what an unprofessional idiot I was for not selecting him. He demanded that I have someone else interview him. He went on to tell me that I had made a big mistake and he was going to contact my boss and CEO. He never called, and coincidentally, he recently asked to connect with me on LinkedIn.”

Nicholas tells rejected candidates: ” ‘I understand this is hard to accept, but ultimately do you really want to work at an organization where they feel you don’t fit?’ I let them vent for a while, especially if they are very emotional, then I come back and empathize with them and get them back on track to focus on something else.”

She finds that offering a respectful decline will elicit a “thank you” from candidates more often than not. “Most are grateful that you got back in touch, because so many times they are left hanging, and they have no idea whether or not they are moving forward.”

Thinking of the Future

For Belyna, ending on a high note is nonnegotiable. “If I feel a candidate may be better suited for another role in my organization, I will talk to them about it,” she said. “If there isn’t a relevant opening, then I encourage them to stay in touch via e-mail and LinkedIn.”

Recruiters can attest to this strategy paying off. “Years ago, I declined a candidate because he wasn’t right for the role I was filling,” MacRae explained. “But twelve years later, I hired him for a different role, at a different company, in a different city. This time, he was the right person.”

This post originally appeared on SHRM.

4 Reasons On-Site Fitness Centers Have Become Key Recruiting Tools in the Struggle for Talent

It’s no secret: Today’s employers are struggling to recruit top talent. Current government statistics tell us the U.S. employment rate was 4.1 percent in November. That’s down by more than half from its peak of 10.2 percent in October 2009. Meanwhile, a large portion of the workforce will be retiring in the next 15 years. By 2030, every Baby Boomer will be 65 or older, which means a full 18 percent of the U.S. population will be at retirement age (according to Pew Research Center population projections). That’s quite a bit of people exiting the workforce — and many jobs left to fill.

Bottom line: There just aren’t going to be enough good people to fill all the open roles in the next 10 to 15 years.

And that’s a big-time problem for today’s modern businesses.

Unique Benefits

How are organizations tackling this challenge? Many are offering unique employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees.

For example, Starbucks offers full tuition reimbursement for its employees through Arizona State University. IKEA offers four months of parental time off to full- and part-time employees with at least one year experience at the company. And Scripps Health offers pet insurance for employees’ cats and dogs.

And, increasingly, companies are offering on-site fitness centers as a key employee perk. According to a 2017 survey of HealthFitness clients, 92 percent of company HR leaders said their on-site fitness centers helped their organization stay competitive.

One HR leader said, “Amenities such as our fitness center help us attract and retain top talent for our organization.” Another leader said, “Our on-site fitness center is an attractive employee perk.”

Why Employees Love On-Site Fitness Centers

Why are these on-site fitness centers such a great employee benefits? And why are they turning out to be especially valuable as recruiting tools? Four big reasons come to mind.

A more personal touch is what employees really want.

According to research conducted by HealthFitness in partnership with The Connell Group between 2015 and 2016, 75 percent of employees say a personal touch is important in their health, wellbeing and fitness program. That means employees are seeking access to live experts who are credible, engaging, easy to access and provide one-on-one support for their specific needs. Corporate fitness centers meet this need directly by not only offering a space to exercise but a place where employees can work with coaches and fitness consultants to develop individualized plans to meet their unique health needs.

Convenience matters.

That same research found that 40 to 45 percent of employees who are offered an on-site fitness facility access choose to participate largely due to the convenience, inviting environment and low- or no-cost membership. After all, it’s much easier to get a workout in if you only have to travel two floors down on the elevator versus 10 miles in rush-hour traffic. Convenience is everything for today’s over-booked employee.

Movement matters, too — especially when helping reduce workplace injuries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 million on-the-job injuries occurred in 2016. Last year there were 1,153,490 days-away-from-work cases due to injuries reported with an average of eight days away from work to recuperate. And, last but certainly not least, workplace injuries cost employers nearly $60 billion a year. Those are some staggering numbers. And employers are beginning to realize that movement matters and that muscular imbalances can lead to pain, injury and decreased movement functionality.

Definitions of fitness are evolving.

Ten years ago, if you asked employers to define fitness when it came to their employees’ health, they probably would have spoken mostly about physical health. But, in 2018, employers are increasingly looking at employee health from a whole-person view, recognizing its physical, social, emotional, financial and environmental dimensions. And on-site fitness centers have evolved with that changing definition of fitness to address more of these dimensions. For example, employees can now get a workout (on the treadmill), refocus (via a yoga class) and refresh (with a tai chi class)—all at the modern on-site fitness center.

As the struggle for talent continues, I think we’ll see more companies introducing corporate fitness centers as a key way to recruit top employees.

How Machine Learning is Changing Recruiting

Companies approach recruiting in different ways. Facebook’s method, for example, involves acquisitions for human capital and a six-week onboarding boot camp. Of course, that’s not the norm: On average, a recent study found it takes 42 days—and a cost-per-hire of $4,129—to fill an open position. That adds up, especially since Bloomberg recently reported that approximately 10,000 members of the baby boomer generation reach retirement age every day. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder efficiency-boosting advancements in machine learning are beginning to challenge the HR status quo. Let’s explore how machine learning is changing recruiting.

How Businesses Use Algorithmic Assessments

Spotify. Waze. Netflix. Amazon. These are just a handful of the many companies that have opted-in to some form of AI or machine learning. Why the boom? There are lots of reasons, of course, but there’s a primary one that comes to mind: Using algorithmic assessments—i.e., a kind of machine learning—can speed existing processes for consumers and even predict their needs ahead of schedule. In other words, these companies know that to get ahead in this digital marketplace, they’ll need to compete on customer experience (CX). They’re using technology to get there.

The same principle holds true for HR and, more specifically, recruiting. Algorithmic assessments use statistics and historical data to predict whether or not a potential employee will perform well. The benefits of this process are numerous: Recruiters can consider more applicants in less time and with less effort. In addition, they have the added peace of mind that their decisions are backed by more data than subjectivity.

Let’s examine an international startup harnessing the power of algorithmic assessments.

From Reviewing Resumes to Reviewing Social Behavior

It’s impossible to tell everything about potential hires from resumes alone. What if you could incorporate that resume data with information about who applicants really are—their values, likes and dislikes, etc.—and then use machine learning to plug that information into an algorithm that could predict how well they fit within your corporate culture? That’s the premise behind the Indian startup Belong, a brand recently profiled by Forbes as one company leading the machine learning and recruiting charge.

Belong’s algorithms do two things: First, they analyze behavioral data from social networks, blogs, and other digital platforms in addition to the standard information like education, experience, and stated objectives found in CVs to gather “a more holistic and accurate” profile of each candidate. They also use machine learning to better understand the preferences and patterns of each hiring company. From all that data, Belong generates a tailored, SERP-esque database of matches, each unique to the company and the position.

Does it work? Belong’s method reportedly gets a minimum of a threefold increase in company-candidate engagement rates. With numbers like that and customers like Cisco and Amazon, I’d say they’re onto something.

Now, Belong was by no means the first to dip its toes into social when it comes to recruiting. Their application of machine learning to their solution, though, is their secret sauce. Note that my friend and colleague, Megan Biro, CEO of TalentCulture, has written extensively about the power of social media, especially in passive recruiting. The trifecta of relationships, conversation, and unprecedented access to digital tools is a veritable hotbed of HR potential—Meghan has even referred to it as the “tech meets HR marriage,” and I couldn’t agree more. We’ve both got eyes on what’s next.

Speaking of what’s next, are there any plans to shake up what recruiting looks like at your organization in the next year? If you’re looking for a change, what potential do you see in machine learning and HR? What challenges? Let me know in the comments.

Photo Credit: martinlouis2212 Flickr via Compfight cc

 This article was first published on FOW Media.